If you are seriously considering becoming a certified professional coach either as an external executive coach or a life coach or an internal coach for a company, you probably have been doing a lot of research already about how to become one. And since doing a formal training in coaching is the first step, it’s possible that you may have come across multitudes of coach training programs and the plethora of options can be confusing.

The following criteria will help you screen and choose the best coach training program you rightfully deserve:

1. Recognition by International Coach Federation. This is a must as ICF is the recognized global authority of coaching and it offers the only globally recognized, independent credentialing program. To get the ACC (Associate Certified Coach) credential, you need to do a program that provides at least 60 hours of ICF-approved training; for the Professional Certified Coach (PCC) you will need 125 hours of accredited training. Programs that are not specifically approved by the ICF may be a waste of your money as they may not be considered by the ICF for your credential. To verify if the program you are attending is ICF-certified, visit www.coachfederation.org/research-education/coach-training programs/tpss//.

2. Credibility – credential, experience, and expertise of the mentor coach or faculty teaching the course. Faculty credibility is the most critical factor to consider. Always go for the faculty who has a PCC or MCC credential to make sure you are learning the skills properly and correctly. This is critical especially when you finally apply for the certification and you are required to pass the ICF oral exam. If faculty does not specifically say he is ICF-certified, check the ICF website and verify his credential. Do not allow yourself to be deceived by coaches who have the habit of making false claims. Always investigate and do background check before you decide. In addition, faculty should be practicing coaches so that they can share with you their experience and the wisdom they gained from this experience. Since coaching is heavily influenced by culture, ensure that your faculty breathes and lives your culture and its peculiarities. They should know how coaching processes and skills are adapted to your culture.

3. Training delivery – face to face or via teleclasses. Choose what works best for you. Both in-person and teleclass delivery modes are effective methodologies, depending on your learning preference and other considerations. Teleclass programs usually take longer time to complete. Face-to-face trainings are usually fast-track programs. Check if the vendor offers personalized options to suit your learning style, budget and schedule.

4. Supervision as you jumpstart your coaching practice either as an external coach or an internal coach in an organization. Go for a training that guides you as you coach an actual client, for at least three months under the watchful guidance of an ICF-credentialed mentor coach. A practicum inside the classroom is not enough as it is still a “role play” and it does not give you an actual taste of real coaching practice.

5. Mentor coaching for the ICF oral exam and undying support as you complete the logged coaching hours. Completing the required training hours is only the first step towards getting the ICF credential. The other two steps are the completion of logged coaching hours (100 hours for the ACC, 750 hours for the PCC) and mentor coaching. As part of ICF requirement, you need to undergo Mentor Coaching where you spend 10 hours with an ICF credentialed coach who will mentor you for the oral exam. At the end of the mentor coaching, you should be given a reference letter that needs to be submitted as part of your exam and certification application. Some training programs include Mentor Coaching in their offering. Getting this separately adds a significant cost to your training. So, you need to find out if 10 hours of mentoring is part of the package offered to you.

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